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As Lagos State governorship candidates intensify campaigns across the state, there are growing concerns about the capacity of opposition parties to upturn the apple cart in the March 11, 2023 election.
Sixteen political parties and their candidates will slug it out for the plum job. While most of the candidates are new entrants and relatively unknown in the politics of the state, giving rife to the speculations that they are planted to merely occupy space and spoil the game for the opposition and narrow their chances.
Some allege that one of the political tricks the ruling party has adopted since 2003 was to field candidates in the second row parties only for them to step down for their sponsors at the twilight of the election. It is unlikely that 2023 be different.
According to the list released by INEC, the governorship candidates include the incumbent governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC, Olajide Adediran (PDP), Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour (LP), Funmilayo Kupokiyi (APM), Abiola Adeyemi (APP), Taofeek Uthman (SDP), and Adenipebi Mode-Adekunle (ZLP).
Others are, Dickson Olaogun (A), Abdulrasaq Balogun (AA), Akeem Olayiwola (AAC), Olufunso Doherty (ADC), Bamidele Ishola (ADP), Braithwaite Ishola (NRM), Olawale Oluwo (BP), Wasiu Ajayi (YPP) and Olanrewaju Jim-Kamal (NNPP).
Since September 28 when campaigns for the governorship election began, less than five political parties have been visible on the streets of Lagos while others and their candidates remain in oblivion, just as their secretariats and campaign offices are not known.
There are feelings that the election is going to be a three-horse race as against previous elections where only APC and PDP dominated the political space.
Many, however, are hopeful of an impressive outing from the Labour Party, which is gradually making an inroad in the state because of its youth support, who is disenchanted with the status quo and might vote against the ruling party.
ALTHOUGH Sanwo-Olu’s achievements remain debatable in the state, his supporters believe he has done well to get a second term, some of his opponents hold contrary opinions, describing him as not, “spectacular in the area of provision and maintenance of infrastructure.”
Lagos APC critics have always been asking for a better explanation on how the resources of the state have been expended. To them, for a state that generates over N50 billion IGR every month, the state of infrastructure in the state ought to be better than what is available.
They also say Sanwo-Olu’s predecessor, Akinwunmi Ambode, in his first three years in office, commissioned more roads and projects than his successor. The sorry state of road network and drainages is another minus for Sanwoolu’s government.
Despite criticisms from opposition parties, the governor will rather want to be assessed on his electoral promises, which became the six pillars of the state’s strategic development agenda, namely: “Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy, Entertainment and Tourism, as well as Security and Governance.”
His supporters say he has delivered on these promises and more. For instance, the blue and red line railway projects have been described as laudable projects that would change the face of transportation in the state from next year, so also his efforts at transforming water transportation.
The State Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotosho, said the governor has not only initiated many projects in the last three and half years, he has completed and commissioned many to the admiration of Lagosians that are willing to vote for him again.
He said, “We have built 970 roads; Public Works Corporation has rehabilitated 650 inner roads. We have done 34 roads in Kosofe, Somolu, Victoria Island and Ikoyi. We are also building 15 bridges and most of them have been completed. We have done six roundabouts to ease gridlock on Allen Avenue, Lekki Expressway, including Lekki Roundabout 1 and 2, Ikotun and Maryland for traffic to move in those areas. We have inaugurated the Oshodi-Abule-Egba BRT Lane. In Ojokoro, 31 roads were commissioned in one day. This is just to mention a few.”
He continued: “Look at the schools we are commissioning, they are iconic schools. Vetland is a 12-classroom school, with modern facilities, touch-screen blackboard and modern equipment all over the place. The first of its kind in West Africa, I dare say. It is built with containers; that is Vetland School in Agege. Then, the Elemoro School is an 18-classroom school with modern facilities, with a lab, sickbay, sporting facilities (the pitch is as good as the one used by the Super Eagles).
“We have empowered 18,000 teachers, training them on how to use technology to teach. In addition, about 450,000 pupils have been given tablets for them to improve in their education. We renovated 243 libraries. We have two brand new universities (our universities never went on strike when others were on strike). Today, everybody wants to come to Lagos State University (LASU).
“In housing, we have done about 15 projects. We have done housing units in Idale-Badagry, Sangotedo, Ikorodu, Ibeshe, Igbogbo, Igando and so many other places. On Victoria Island; we have done in Igbokusu, Ilupeju, Lekki.
“In health, Lagos spearheaded the national response to COVID-19. The story of how Lagos tackled COVID-19 is all over the world and the state is being seen as the example of how such a public health emergency should be tackled.
“We are renovating our general hospital on Harvey Road in Ebute-Meta, in Odan and in Isolo; we are building a new general hospital that has not been built for decades in Ojo. Very soon, we are going to have a 500-bed mental hospital in Ketu-Ejinrin and a research centre in Yaba. We are building hostels for our doctors in Gbagada and Ikeja.”
For a state with over 20 million residents and huge infrastructural deficit, many believe that whatever Sanwo-Olu could have achieved more especially for Lagosians residing in remote parts of the state, where the roads are extremely bad and not motorable.
LAGOS PDP’s governorship candidate, Dr Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adediran also known as Jandor is working hard to make history and stop APC’s control of the Lagos House since 1999.
Jandor, who is also the Convener of Lagos4Lagos Movement, was a member of the ruling party until early this year, when he led his supporters to the PDP to protest the absence of level playing ground in the selection of members of the state exco. He has been urging Lagosians to free themselves from the political grip of the former governor of the state and presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who he said has continued to govern the state through proxies.
To him, the time has come to give birth to a true Mega City and a Lagos that is truly WEALTHY on account of his 7- point Agenda, including works and infrastructure; education and environment; aquaculture and ease of doing business, law and order; transportation and traffic management; health and housing, youth and women empowerment, among others.
Jandors’ desire to govern the state started seven years ago, after a detailed appraisal of the performance of successive governments in Lagos from 1999 and became convinced that a paradigm shift is needed to move the state forward.
His focus has been to change the face of governance in Lagos and make it a WEALTHY state in truth as against its current status of being a wealthy state only on paper, disclosing that he has mapped out plans to make Lagos work better in the interest of all residents by decentralising development to all parts of the state and ensuring that the flow of the wealth of the state is redirected from the pockets of an individual to the benefit of all.
He said, “we are very intentional about our vision of birthing a true Mega City led by a servant leader who is truly independent and will not need a second level of approval before taking decisions. The power will truly reside with the people and not an individual pretending to be a demi-god.”
Jandor, while identifying endemic corruption as one of the biggest problems stagnating the development of the state, further assured that he would hit the ground running by bringing on financial re-engineering through critical reforms that would fast-track operational processes and plug financial leakages in the public service if voted as next governor of Lagos.
The main opposition governorship candidate, while further lamenting what he termed the poor state of infrastructure and the widening gap in infrastructure deficit, which he said he was ashamed of, noted that it was common knowledge that the good people of Lagos were just enduring the remaining days of the incumbent government, declaring that he was signing a social contract with Lagosians to serve them “with the skillfulness of our hands and the integrity of our hearts.”
Observers say what may also work for Jandor and the PDP is that an average Lagosian could do with a change in leadership, which the PDP has been unable to achieve since 1999. However, the endless internal crisis rocking PDP in Lagos State may pose serious challenge to the ambition of the party come 2023.
The party is still finding it difficult to manage the emergence of Jandor manner,
while party leaders in the state, including former deputy national chairman of the party, Chief Bode George, are still working on the reconciliation of aggrieved members over its crisis-prone primaries and the selection of of his running mate. Jandor was accused of betraying the agreement he had with the leaders to pick Rhodes-Vivour as his running mate when he announced the Nollywood actress Funke Akindele as his choice for the office.
Many of the aspirants, who contested the party’s primary with Jandor dumped PDP to pick the governorship tickets of other political parties, but Jandor has been forging ahead to convince Lagosians on the need to vote for him and his running mate.
Party sources disclosed that Chief Olabode George and some leaders of the party have developed cold feat over Jandor’s ambition even as they have restrained themselves from speaking against his candidature in the public.
The party is also bleeding from the war of attrition between five PDP governors (G5) led by Nyesom Wike and the presidential candidate of the party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. It was gathered that while many PDP leaders in Lagos State queue behind Wike’s group, Jandor is alleged to have pitched his tent with Atiku, the reason Wike openly endorsed Sanwo-Olu during his recent visit to the state.
THE governorship candidate of LP, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, who dumped PDP to realise his political ambition has never hidden his disdain for APC in the state. To the young and brilliant architect, everything in the state needs to be redesigned.
He promised to embark on youth empowerment and other social engagement programmes to take their attention away from thuggery and crime by pushing for policies that will positively engage them in skills acquisition programme to take the state to the next level.
He said the state needs a servant leader who will implement people-oriented programmes and is accountable to the people, promising to block identifiable leakages and bring down the cost of project construction across the state.
He said: ” If given opportunity to serve as governor of Lagos State, we will track accountability by creating a platform to engage with the people through a radio programme to discuss projects and how to implement them. People will be accommodated in the administration, which will offer voices for residents across the state to express their minds on how they desire to be governed. I shall render account to the people because that is the primary purpose of being in office. Good governance is about the people.
“We shall count on the feedback from the people as the cardinal strategy of our programmes and policies. We shall embark on a tour of different parts of the state to identify areas needing attention. That way, we will understand the multiple needs of the people of Lagos and create an inclusive mechanism to govern the state.
“We hope to develop a multi-modal transport system to reduce the over 4 trillion naira lost to traffic by people affected. People of Lagos need to be much more productive if the issue of traffic congestion is addressed frontally. We will push for less suffocating taxation, provide affordable housing and put the people as the centre of the structured/ system of governance.”
He said if elected as governor, he would introduce a rotational governance structure and work with the local government council to identify priority projects for the people of the state.
The LP candidate added: “We shall run an administration driven by empathy and ensure we implement 35 per cent affirmative action for women. We will be development driven, latching on to human capacity development.”
The growing popularity of the party and the Obidient movement across the country, especially in Lagos State is there for Rhodes-Vivour to harvest but observers say LP members in the state need to work harder and penetrate the grassroots to have a good outing in 2023.